It would have been an uncomfortable topic to present in a training symposium. It was a challenging task to get an audience to engage. It was an important core issue, though an age-old one. But Sherry Saehlenou not only made the presentation with class, she not only got the audience engaged in style, she also achieved her greater purpose: to create awareness about the need for an industry to do something more.
The event was the World Aviation Training Symposium (WATS 2016) in Orlando this April (2016), and I was as attentive as anybody else since it was the one training need for the aviation industry that’s been waiting to happen. After all, as her presentation highlighted: Traffickers use commercial Air Transport as one of the common means of transporting victims.
Sherry is, of course, a respected Aviation professional and those who know her (and her career) would hardly be surprised that she’s now pioneering Training and Awareness programs regarding Human Trafficking. Recently retired from Boeing, Sherry is the Principal of the aviation training consulting firm, CA Training Solutions. In a career spanning 37 years, Sherry has flown as international flight attendant with Pan American and United Airlines. Post 9/11, Sherry was a major contributor to the implementation of cabin-defence security training programs for flight attendants and critical incident training for United Airlines. So she knows the possible interaction points that cabin crew have and steps that they can take to get involved in improving the situation.
How serious is the Human Trafficking problem that it requires awareness and training programmes? The following graphics from the 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) should provide a snapshot of the scale of the problem:
According to official research available from UNODC and UNICEF (UNICEF estimates 1.2 million children are trafficked every year), trafficking is happening everywhere in the world. According to Sherry’s research, it is the second largest criminal industry in the world. And as she says: it could happen to anybody since traffickers use entrapment as often as forced methods to trap victims.
Sherry has spent the last year researching and gathering first-hand information from various sources including victims of trafficking. For now, she’s diligently using her vast experience and research to build a curriculum and possible training programmes.